From the Ground Up - Urban Challenges to Agriculture

Production agriculture is an industry that faces many challenges every year from weather, increased input costs, and sometimes unintended consequences from government legislation. Some producers fear that agriculture is on a collision course with urban municipalities and recently Texas Ag Commissioner Todd Staples was quick to come to agriculture’s defense.

“Agriculture continues to be a mainstay of the Texas economy. We contribute over nine per cent of our gross state product, over one hundred billion dollars in terms of economic impact. A big part of the strength and security of our nation starts right here in the Lone Star State in our agricultural sector, but we also know that we’re being challenged today.”

Staples cited an attack on agriculture by a group in Austin.

“There was a press conference held here in Austin a few months ago, and they had pictures of water hogs, and agriculture was listed at the top, because agriculture is the biggest user of water today. But what they failed to include in the press conference was that between 1974 and the year 2010, ag water usage has declined by forty-two per cent, while we’ve had the doubling of output in many areas, beef cattle, cotton, corn.”

Staples went on to say that agriculture was doing more with less than any other time in history.

“But that doesn’t get told in urban press conferences when people have different agendas. Agriculture has led the way in conservation. Agriculture has led the way in new farming methods that use less water, and we’re going to have to continue to lead the way.”

And Staples is an optimist.

“Many people are fearful today of the future, but I’m not. I am confident with smart minds and thinking through our challenges, we’ll be able to meet the challenges of the future.”